10 Neat Things About Yellow
by Shauna Dobbie
by Dorothy Dobbie

The Local Gardener magazines, Ontario Gardener, Manitoba Gardener and Alberta Gardener, are published by Pegasus Publications Inc.

Drawing on her 30 years' experience as a senior executive in the magazine publishing industry, Dorothy launched Manitoba Gardener in 1998, initially running the business out of her home. Two years later, Dorothy's daughter Shauna, living in Ontario, jumped into the fray with Ontario Gardener. And two years after that, they started Alberta Gardener. Visit us at and register for our "Ten Neat things" newsletter. Watch Shaw TV for garden tips and Listen to CJOB for the Gardener Sundays at 9:08

March 13, 2019

1. Pigment.

Yellow in living things is usually caused by pigments called carotenoids. Carotenoids give colour to yellow flowers, bananas and leaves, among other things. They serve two roles in plants: they absorb light energy for use in photosynthesis and they protect chlorophyll from light damage. In the fall, when trees slow down their chlorophyll production in preparation for winter, the carotenoids become visible as yellow leaves.

2. Yellow roses.

In Europe, roses only came in shades of red, white and pink until the 18th century, when yellow roses were "discovered" in Asia and Afghanistan. Not much later, the yellow rose of Texas became a thing. Rosa x harisonii (the Latin name for the yellow rose of Texas) was a chance hybrid that occurred in the suburban yard of George Folliot Harison in. New York City? That's right. Nurseryman William Prince took cuttings of it and sold it starting in 1830. The rose proved quite vigorous and naturalized around abandon buildings and roadsides along the Oregon Trail and down into Texas.

3. Black-eyed Susan.

Also called Rudbeckia hirta, bright yellow black-eyed Susans get the first part of their name from the dark centres. The "Susan", though, is supposed by some to come from a poem by Englishman John Gay, who died in 1732, although the flower is native to North America. The Random House Dictionary says the name is an Americanism from the 1890s.

4. Yellow flag.

This yellow Iris pseudacorus has one cultivar that won the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. In Canada, though, don't plant it. It's on every invasive species list in the country. It gets into waterways to create dense stands that out-compete native flora and it is very difficult to eradicate.

5. Sunflowers.

These beautiful yellow giants display heliotropism when they are young, before the flowers have completely bloomed. Heliotropism occurs when a plant faces toward the sun and moves as the sun moves. Through the night, they turn to face east, waiting for the sun to rise again. Don't expect your sunflowers to do this when they've bloomed, though; at that point, they generally just face east all the time.

6. Daffodils.

These pretty yellow harbingers of spring are from bulbs, as you probably know. But did you know that breeders will increase the number of bulbs through a process called twin-scaling? This involves sterilizing and cutting the flower bulb; the bulb will respond by growing bulbets. A grower can get 16 or 32 or more bulbs this way within a couple of years rather than, perhaps, doubling the number of bulbs every two years or so.

7. Ranunculus.

The name ranunculus has nothing to do with the flowers being called buttercup or the colour yellow at all. It is Latin for little frog, presumably because the flowers are typically found near water.

8. Goldenrod.

Solidago, often seen in the fall along the highway, is very high in latex. In fact, Thomas Edison was asked by his friend Henry Ford to find an American-growing plant that could produce enough latex to make rubber; Edison determined that a species of goldenrod could fill the bill. He bred a 12-foot tall goldenrod that was 12 per cent latex.

9. Beloved yellow.

The colour of sunlight and gold, yellow is often associated with warmth, cheer and intelligence. A room painted yellow feels warmer than a room painted white. In China, it is the colour of nobility.

10. Unloved yellow.

In Europe and America, only six per cent of respondents said yellow was their favourite colour, while seven per cent said it was their least favourite colour. It is associated with cowardice. Judas Iscariot is often depicted in yellow.

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